Wrapping up our Feature Friday series, we’re featuring former AIGA Central Pennsylvania Treasurer, Peter Laudermilch. Peter is a seasoned design pro, owning his own freelance business here in Central PA. He shares some valuable insights into the benefits of getting involved with AIGA and the local design community, how our career milestones get us to where we are today and why students should invest time is working with experienced designers early in their careers.
Name, Title + Company:
Peter Laudermilch, Principal/Designer, Peter Laudermilch Design
How long have you been in the field?
Where did you go to school/what for?
Kutztown University, Communication Design
How long have you been an AIGA member?
What important milestones do you credit to getting to where you are now?
- Being introduced to the concept of graphic design in high school, thanks to my father and my art teacher.
- Getting into the Communication Design program at Kutztown.
- Finalizing my portfolio, which took me forever.
- Landing my first job in NYC.
- Learning how to design for the web at my second job.
- Participating on the AIGA board. This has truly paid me back in spades.
- Taking the plunge to start my own business. The hardest part is making the decision to do it. After that, you just make it work.
Why Central PA?
Well, mostly because I’m from the area. I probably wouldn’t be here though if there wasn’t an AIGA chapter. It’s also pretty reasonable as far as the cost of living, and it’s not crazy crowded like some of the major “design centers” in the country. I suspect that somehow I subconsciously can’t live without the underlying smell of cow manure in the air as well.
Advice for professionals looking for a new job OR Advice for young, practicing designers OR Advice for students?
Students: Get a job at a studio first. Work with other designers who have more experience than you. You’ll learn way more within your first few years than you did in school. Push yourself out of your comfort zone. Think of it as an investment and a form of graduate school. It will pay off throughout your career. Don’t get discouraged that others are better than you. Everyone sucks in the beginning. If you don’t suck in the beginning, then that’s the best you’ll ever be and it’s all down hill from there. And if you don’t think you suck, you’re probably overconfident which is even worse. That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t try though. You’ll only get better if you work really hard at it…just like anything.
Does this mean why choose design as a profession? Or why do we need design in the world? I’m going to cop out and choose the less philosophical former interpretation. It’s amazing to me that creative people have such an extremely influential, yet often undervalued position within our economy. We literally get to bring things into the world that are otherwise just abstract concepts or ideas. We get to make them real. To give a business a face. To make a process visual. To clarify the complex. It’s way more than expressing yourself. It’s forming the world around you.
Favorite part of the job?
When things click. I’ve heard it called flow. When you get completely lost in what you’re doing, the work is the most rewarding. The trick is managing all of the distractions so you can actually get this deeply into what you’re doing. Computers and phones WANT to distract you, so, so badly. You have to find a way to block it all out. That’s when your best ideas come through, and the time just flies by. And at the end of it, this beautiful solution just appears. It’s sounds cheesy but it’s magical.
Why should someone be an AIGA member? How has it benefited you?
To support the profession and stay connected. We’re really, really lucky to have an AIGA chapter in this area. I think a lot of people take it for granted. Don’t just become a member, but participate. You’ll get the most out of your membership if you help run the show. It might be a little intimidating at first, but it will actually make all of the events you attend better as well. Do it now, before you have kid(s) and it becomes IMPOSSIBLE. You’ll grow as a person and as a designer, I promise you!
On behalf of the AIGA Central Pennsylvania board, I would like to thank every community member who has taken the time to nominate, share and/or be featured in the Feature Friday series. This series was created to celebrate our tenth year as a chapter and to showcase the incredible designers of Central Pennsylvania. We wouldn’t be the chapter we are today if it wasn’t for all of you. Interested in getting involved or learning more about the chapter? Come out to an event or email the board at firstname.lastname@example.org.
– Bri, AIGA Central Pennsylvania President